Carrie Pierson

Brodie Pierson and Ethan White playing in the final.

Rocky Mountain Chess Tournament

May 25, 2023

This spring Rocky had their first ever chess tournament! This is the exclusive on everything that went on during the tournament, what would like to be changed for next year, the prizes the top four winners got, along with interviews with the two finalists.

First up is how Mrs. O’Rourke, the Vice Principal, set up and created the tournament. “Mr. McKelvey’s class did the design for the posters and had a QR code to sign up on. Speech, Debate, and other kids that like chess helped draft the whole tournament with me so I didn’t have to come up with it completely on my own.  We had to order chess boards and timers because we didn’t have any of that originally.  The secretary helped as well, and she made the brackets based off the different levels and matched it up with as much as possible. Mr. Rice bought a trophy as well that was engraved grandmaster. We really tried making it a school wide event so during the matches we took lots of pictures, and we had moderators that would watch the game to make sure everyone played by the rules and didn’t make any illegal moves and those were all students to involve more people. For the semifinals, there were two games that the students would play, and the reason for that is because whites have an advantage and we wanted to make it as fair as possible. The tournament lasted about 8 weeks and for the final with the help of Mr. Meunier and his student Calvin, they set up the tech for the gym. There was music playing when the two finalists Brodie Pierson and Ethan White chose what music to walk into the gym to. There was also a game projected on the screen in the gym so people could see the moves they were playing. Brodie and Ethan also got to choose a coach for the final. I invited the parents of both and set up a VIP section for them, and then the siblings and parents of Brodie and Ethan sat in the VIP section. But overall, it was just spitting out ideas and seeing if they could work, and I think it turned out pretty well!” Overall O’Rourke states how much preparation went into the tournament, and how it all came together.

Now what is going to change for next year’s tournament? O’Rourke explains, “I want to try and figure out how to broadcast the finale, so if you missed out, you could just watch it on your own time. It would be cool if there were plaques of each of the winners so you can see all the winners over time. I also want to create a spot on each bracket for someone that lost because of time, or made a little mistake to come back, and then for someone to come back and redeem themselves. Coach Rambo is also going to create a chess club next year and will help with the tournament.” Despite having a great tournament that happened this spring, hopefully next year’s tournament will be a little bit better and inclusive!

Brodie Pierson, who got second, explains how everything went for him for the big day. “I was excited to be part of the final because this was my first ever tournament I have been in! I was also nervous though because I wanted to do well because I knew a lot of people would be watching including my friends and family. I ended up losing the first round so I was little nervous, but I also tried to relax and calm down and not everything it and make bad moves.” Pierson overall did a very good job making it to the finals despite not winning; it was a fun experience for him.

Now is the exclusive with the winner Ethan White. “I felt a little bit nervous for the final, but I was very well prepared, and I was somewhat content with whatever happened since I knew Brodie so well. I felt very good winning the first round because I was originally scared that I wouldn’t play my best because of the pressure. It was nice seeing my parents and sister watch me win the first round from the sidelines. After winning the tournament I was super excited, and I felt very famous for the next couple of days which was cool, but I was also disappointed that we couldn’t do the Double Boncloud Armageddon match.” Ethan did a great job on winning Rocky’s first ever tournament despite the nerves he had going into it.


Brodie Pierson and Ethan white smiling for a picture before the final starts. (Carrie Pierson)

Pierson and White also explain how they got ready for the tournament and what they recommend to beginners. Pierson states, “Some ways I prepared were playing chess a lot like puzzles and watching lessons and YouTube videos which I recommend for beginners, as well as not stressing out about not winning or you’re rating. Just having fun and practice. ” White explains, “To practice for the final and really for the whole tournament I did lots of puzzles and opening preparation. For beginners I would suggest watching some videos by people like Gotham chess and Hikaru. Getting a account is also a good way to start playing. You can then expand your resources to things like memberships and courses as you go along.” These tips and tricks helped Pierson and White make it to the final but are good tips for beginners as well!

Pierson and White also explain some of the moves they played. Pierson explains, “Some moves I played included the ponziani opening a few times and I believe I also did the Italian as well.” White explains the moves he did as well. “I played the Scotch and Caro-Kann. I was very happy to play e4 because I knew I could play the Caro-Kann, which I consider my best opening. I also felt very confident in round two since I knew I was playing very well, and Brodie decided to play my Scotch.” There are many different openings and moves to play in chess, and you never know, one may be of interest!

Now Pierson and White explain the big question. Will they be a part of next year’s tournament? Pierson states, “I will be in upcoming tournaments, because I played pretty poorly in the final compared to how I did in the other rounds, I think I need to redeem myself. “White shares, “Yeah, unless I get hit by a bus.” Make way for Brodie and his comeback, and Ethan showing everyone he still got it for next year’s tournament!

Finally, O’Rourke explained some of the prizes the top four winners got. “The prizes were all very similar to each other. Mr. McKelvey’s class designed shirts for a prize. The designs were narrowed down to the most liked and then the top four winners which are Ethan White- junior, Brodie Pierson-freshman, Justin Lee-senior, and Stone Schmidt-freshman got to choose from the available options. Each student got a lunch bag that had some gift cards, Rocky and Meridian Police merch, a water bottle, and some snacks.” Now if winning isn’t the only great part that comes with the tournament, then the gift bags might be a close second!

Overall, these were the behind the scenes of how the tournament came together, and the incite of Pierson and White, and their knowledge and feelings on the tournament! Chess is a fun game and can improve your concentration, memorization, patience, and your ability to adapt and learn. Even though it takes time, chess is a game that might spike people’s interest!

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